The Fall season is nearly here and I finally got hold of some pilots for some Fall shows. Below are my opinions on
PUSH, NEVADA, JOHN DOE, FASTLANE, HACK, and FIREFLY.
PUSH, NEVADA is about an IRS Agent named Jim Prufrock (Derek Cecil) who receives an accidental fax that shows accounting
errors at the Versailles Casino in Push, Nevada. He makes a call to a Mr. Silas Bodnick, but Bodnick tries to threaten him.
Jim makes a trip down to Push and his car breaks down 30 miles from Push. He enters the strange town of Push after he gets
a lift a from a truck driver who met his wife at a Slo-Dance Bar called Slomans. in Push. Jim sees Push is a town like no
other. People start telling him to not to move too fast and then they tell him to go home (and leave things alone). The pilot
is a thrill to watch and I wonder what will happen next. It is very stylized and very Twin Peaksesque. And of course
you get to follow the clues for a chance to win the money that is missing in the show.
FASTLANE is OK to watch, but it suffers from being too overly stylized, filled with MTV music and editing, smart ass cops,
and a weak performance from Tiffani-Amber Thiessen as Lt. Billy Chandler. And sometimes the script suffers by not being realistic
enough and sometimes over-the-top with the action in a couple of scenes and a couple of logic flaws like how come Chambers
unit doesnt have more people. I liked Craig Sheffer as the corrupt DEA Agent Adam Cain. FASTLANE is basically the MTVish hip-hop
version of MIAMI VICE.
JOHN DOE is a very interesting pilot which will probably develop its own mythology about John Doe himself as he tries to
find out who he is in future episodes. The show starts with John doe waking up naked on an island. He walks around and slips
into the water of a cliff. John is saved by a fishing boat off Seattle and he is taken ashore. John doesnt know who he is,
but he knows everything. He wins money from horse races and playing the stock market. Then one day, he sees the picture of
a missing girl in color (I forgot to mention John sees things in black and white). John goes to the police to help them find
the missing girl because John thinks the girl might know him somehow. JOHN DOE is a great pilot with good writing, great acting,
and good direction from Mimi Leder. JOHN DOE does share some things with THE PRETENDER, but JOHN DOE is different from THE
PRETENDER (even though some will probably crack jokes about the C shaped scar or brand on John Doe and say The Center branded
him). I will watch JOHN DOE because I want to know who he is and how the mystery of who he is will unravel.
HACK is another good pilot. It is a solid paced and intense pilot starring David Morse as a former cop turned cab driver.
It looks like a show with lots of stand alone episodes. Anyway the former cop turned cabbie is on felony indictment for supposedly
taking or stealing money. The former cop is a little jaded and doesnt want to help anyone at first, but eventually he warms
up and helps a father find his daughter who has been lured to Philadelphia by an internet predator (that promises to make
her a model). Interesting pilot about an ex-cop turned cabbie trying to find redemption in helping people the police wont.
FIREFLY has lots of promise. The unaired pilot episode Serenity is a little too slow at times, but its really good when
things kick into high gear or during the tense moments like the beginning where they had to shut down all power in an attempt
not to be detected by an Alliance ship and later on when they hope the Reavers ship wont come after them (and just pass on
by). What else is good about the pilot is you get plenty of backstory and get to know the characters. Firefly is a cross between
a science fiction story and a western, so in a way it is a space western.
The plot is Serenity is like this. Mal (aka Captain Malcolm Reynolds played by Nathan Fillon) and his crew have to run
for it in the Serenity when the Alliance ship discovers them. They discover the cargo they have been hired to salvage is Alliance
marked cargo and their buyer now wont buy the cargo. They take on passengers including a Preacher named Book and a doctor
(Simon) with some special cargo. Mal decides to make a trip to a moon (Whitefall) and sell the cargo to a woman who shot him
before (Patience). Mal finds out the cargo is Simons sister, River, that the Alliance want back really badly after they went
to the trouble doing experiments to Rivers brain before Simon rescued her.
There some great character like the prostitute Inara (Monica Baccarin), Jayne (Adam Baldwin), and Zoe (Gina Torres). I
really like the character of Inara because she is willing to stand up against people including Mal when she thinks they are
going to do the wrong thing. Mal is also a great character as you see he cares about his crew and his ship. Mal sometimes
might not be planning the wisest course of action, but he does see all of the angles and able to get out of any bad situation.
Then there is Jayne who may not like Mal, but he wont betray Mal. Jayne is like a redneck version of Avon from Blakes 7 in
Now, the special effects of the ships and how they move are great. I like how the Serenity is designed and how the Serenity
differs from Alliance Cruisers. Alliance ships are nice and smooth like Star Trek where the Serenity is dirty and simple.
There is a difference in technology between the ships. Also you see an Asian influence going on in the city of Persephone
and in parts of the Serenity itself. Sometimes the direction may not be as good as some of Joss Whedons stuff on Buffy, but
the episode does pack a punch in some places. Considered me signed up to see how FIREFLY unfolds. I want to see how the story
unfolds about people who lost a war and trying to get by as criminals six years later. It will be fun to see how the character
interact and what exactly River is going to do (and what did the Alliance experiments to her brain do to her). Will FIREFLY
eventually form an arc and will the Serenity be involved in a new war against the Alliance? Will there be a face to face battle
with the Reavers? Im waiting to see what surprises Joss and the writers have up their sleeves.
THE BEST BETS for series are Firefly, John Doe, and Hack. Fastlane is derivative and over-stylized. Push, Nevada faces
immediate danger from a deadly timeslot on Thursday putting it up against Thursday comedies on NBC and CSI.
This column is copyright 2002 David Blackwell. Email any comments to